It was a dull, grey and misty day at Fairyhouse on Sunday, but the fireworks crackled in the first, the BarOne Racing Juvenile Hurdle as two budding Gordon Elliott stars went head to head.
After more overnight rain it was still officially good ground, and Chief Justice winning this opener proved that rating was correct.
Davy Russell produced the 5/1 shot full of running on the stands side but 8/11 hotpot Coeur Sublime found plenty for Bryan Cooper on the far rail.
It was nip and tuck to the line but Chief Justice bobbed his head at just the right time to get the verdict by a short head.
Russell really earned his corn on the day, surviving a last fence blunder – and losing his irons – to get Delta Work 10/3 home for Elliott and Gigginstown in the Drinmore Novice Chase.
They couldn’t help but drift in slightly on 11/4 jolly Le Richebourg and Barry Geraghty on the run in as they won by half a length.
No question the better horse won on the day and Eliott said: “He’s a grand horse, he stays but he’s not short of speed either. He handles any ground really except very fast.”
Those writing off Ruby Walsh prematurely got their answer in the Royal Bond when he delivered a masterclass on Quick Grabim. If there is perhaps one frustrating thing about Ruby it is that he is so good when dictating the pace from the front that he doesn’t do it more often!
Mind you, as Willie Mullins said: “It was a brilliant tactical ride by Ruby but he had the horse to do it for him too.”
Quick Grabim had disappointed in the For Auction at Navan, having sparkled previously at Tipperary.
And the horse he beat at Tipp, Triplicate – who is crying out for a longer trip – followed him home this time too.
But really it was all warming up to the main act, which was Apple’s Jade and simply blew everything else out of the water.
How connections are still chasing Mares Hurdle glory is hard to know – she looks tailor made for either the Champion Hurdle or the Stayers. One slight reservation mind – she is much better racing right handed.
Cheveley Park Stud paid 400,000 grand to get Envoi Allen after he won
his point to point, and he was 4/9 on his debut in the concluding bumper.
He was green and very raw but still came through for Jamie Codd to beat nice prospect Port Stanley to complete a fantastic 61/1 four timer for Gordon Elliott on the day.
Recent winners for Declan’s Irish Racing Service include Western Honour 11/4, Too Precious 11/4, Thebeastfortheeast 7/4 and Captain Dan evens with 16/1 each way snip Tudor City (pl. 12/1). His Fairyhouse Winter Festival pointers included Lone Wolf 10/3 (w 9/4); Apple’s Jade 10/11 (w 4/7) and Envoi Allen 5/6 (w 4/9) and each way gems Tudor City 16/1 (pl. 12/1) and Triplicate 10/1 (pl. 5/1).